Author Topic: Science of Soul?  (Read 4533 times)

Matt Koeske

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Science of Soul?
« on: October 31, 2008, 11:14:19 AM »
An interesting article recently appeared on the CGJungPage.Org: "This Talk of Soul: What Does It Mean?" by Mary Stamper.  The article was written in 1994/1995.

I don't mean to review the whole article, but it does a nice job of summarizing some of the soul-psychology ideas inherent in or permeating Jungian psychology.  I wish to address two main points.  First, the problem of formulating a "science of soul", which continues to plague us.  Secondly, the continuing attempt of Jungians (of all sub-groups and splinter tribes) to uphold the Platonic spirit/matter dissociation (even as they seek a solution for this dissociation) . . . and how this Platonic thinking is rooted in error and prejudice that holds back the development of a more-scientific (and survivable!) depth psychology.

Let's begin with a quote from James Hillman that Stamper uses.  It lays out the first problem pretty neatly:

Quote from: James Hillman
The failure of psychotherapy to make clear its legitimacy has resulted in psychologies which are bastard sciences and degenerate philosophies. Psychotherapy has attempted to support its pedigree by appropriating logics unsuited for investigating its area. As these borrowed methods fail one by one, psychotherapy seems more and more dubious—neither good physics, good philosophy, nor good religion. Psychotherapists suffer from not being able to communicate about their area of reality in a scientific manner.

(Hillman, Introduction to The Logos of the Soul)


Can there be a "science of soul"?  If yes, what might it look like or how best might it be constructed?  If no, what on earth are we really doing with these attempts to write about the structure or logic of soul in an explanatory or investigative way?  That is, if we are trying to elucidate soul and explain or analyze its manifestations, its probabilities and sense of organization, we are left with either an artistic/poetic approach or a scientific/scholarly approach.  To the degree that we are not merely portraying the soul in painting or sculpture or film or poetry, we are stuck with a kind of prose that is rooted in scientific/academic methods.  That is, the value of analytical prose is in its scientific approach to the communication of information.  On the opposite end of the prose spectrum from scientific writing would be, I suppose, propaganda.  Prose rhetoric that is specifically designed to manipulate information and readers, not express something as clearly as possible.

As a poet, I think it is perfectly legitimate to write about the soul (or about psychology) in a creative medium (or to express the dynamics of the soul in some other artistic medium).  But lets be honest with ourselves.  This is not what we are about.  We have analytical, logical pretensions.  We don't want to (only) take our readers on a trip through soul central, we want to help others understand soul better.  And we claim to be able to do this when we start writing prose about it.  So to disown the scientific method or the general conventions of academic literature and logic, is only to undermine our own capacity to communicate what we want to communicate clearly.

I am not dismissing hybrid attempts of writing about the soul . . . prose that is half science/half poetry.  James Hillman's writing clearly falls into this category.  But of Hillman's literary style or voice we must ask (perhaps more adamantly than Stamper does in the essay linked above) whether his poetics are really complimenting his science or if these two trends or styles might actually be at odds with one another.  If Hillman's writing is a prose of self-conflict this would in no way devalue it (from my perspective, at least).  It may still be brilliant, either as poetry or as psychology (or both).  But does the self-conflict in Hillman's prose facilitate that brilliance or hinder it?  Speaking as a poet, a language artist, as someone who is oriented to such an aesthetic dimension of language, I believe it hinders the final product.  Hillman is a brilliant thinker in spite of what I consider unresolved and incompatible voices or trends in his writing.  Maybe his brilliance is connected to his efforts to bring two seeming Opposites together.  But I do not see him as a real synthesist.  His marriage of poetry and psychology too often fails as poetry, because it is stuck in the analytical voice (which the poetry reader would not tolerate for long).  That is, it tells rather than shows.  It also often fails as psychology, because (as Stamper notes) its muddied language tends to evaporate into abstractions and can baffle readers who are not very well read in both Jung and Hillman (and it still baffles many of them!).

What we (at least I) take from Hillman most of all is not a more efficient and robust theory of psyche but an increased valuation of things psychic, a kind of complex, poetic, intellectual religion of psyche-worship.  Hillman writes in ecstasy and to read Hillman "right" (I would argue) is to read him in ecstasy.  The value of such an ecstatic writing about soul should not be underestimated.  But sometimes we really just want to understand things better.  We don't need an artist or thinker to supply soul for us to experience; we have plenty of our own to offer up.  All we really want to do is figure out what our souls (and perhaps souls in general) are really all about.  We want to learn how to better look at soul and language it . . . and perhaps survive it.  We want to facilitate the bringing together of soul and ego consciousness . . . because our real problem (and the real reason we are drawn to such literature) is that soul seems a distant and vague thing to us . . . or else a confusing if powerful and disorienting presence . . . and we want to find some kind of unity and equilibrium between soul and ego.

That is one of the reasons we might go into Jungian analysis . . . and that equilibrium would then be called "healing".  I know that the main reason I ravenously consumed Jungian literature over the years (and Jung's and Hillman's writings were my favorites) was that I wanted to heal myself with its help.  I wanted a healing tool.  More recently, I have revisited this literature from a more critical perspective, and one of the things I've found in doing this is that Hillman's writing is not as sound as theory-building as it is as ecstatic soul-valuing.  Hillman's literary theater is a temporary experience of the god, but it's "morning after" effect is pronounced.  "That felt good while it lasted, but what did I learn?  What did I take away from that?"  And there's nothing wrong with a nice high or a "satisfying one night stand" (to borrow from Leonard Cohen).  But I don't think Hillman's writing offers a lot of fiber or nutrient.  It is a delicacy or an indulgence, but it is not the staple of a healthy diet.

That said, Hillman's poetic psychology is in some ways more honest than some of the pseudo-scientific Jungian attempts to construct soul.  Hillman seems perfectly aware of this, which is why he (and Wolfgang Giegerich, as well) shows some disdain for more-scientific attempts at psychology.  But admitting that one is serving up desserts and not healthy meals does not mean that people don't need more-nutritious meals, too.  The customer's hunger is not satisfied.  If I want steak and get cheesecake instead, that is not going to cut it.  And declaring that Jungian psychology should become nothing but a cheesecake making organization is not acceptable in my opinion . . . especially when we recognize that Jung's original plan for the restaurant was to make a full-service affair of it.  Just because "doing science" means wrestling with our "inferior functions" doesn't mean that we should or can excuse eschewing it.

I can't help but see the anti-science declarations of otherwise first-rate thinkers like Hillman and Giegerich as extreme cop-outs entirely unbefitting of people with such agile and expansive minds.  We might not want to eat our vegetables, but this desire doesn't convince our bodies that they can go without the nutrients.  Sometimes, yes, even Jungians have to eat some shadow.  Without that, our puer transcendence makes our intelligence fritter away into the ether.  Instead of disdaining "science" or "rationalism" or "materialism" or "naturalism" and patting ourselves on the back for being so clever, we could choose to re-valuate such things, to differentiate them . . . even to try to influence them positively and constructively.  They are not "100% bad".  I think our Jungian relationship to science or materialism is largely unconscious and prejudicial.  We still use some of the principles of the scientific method of observation . . . but we use them without full consciousness.  We steal them during the night while sleepwalking and then disavow all knowledge in the morning.

But science is no more inherently evil than spirituality is.  Worship of the soul has just as many pitfalls . . . and we can (if we choose) try to differentiate those from the positives.  We could admit our faults and not just holler on and on about the faults of our enemies (whose ideas we refuse to carefully consider).  We could take an approach in which our spiritualism or psyche-valuation takes criticism from our materialism or scientific methodology and our scientific methodology takes criticism from our psyche-valuation.  This is what Jung himself implied with his talk about the development of auxiliary (and perhaps eventually, inferior) functions.  Reflecting on our perceptions from various points of view or seats of intelligence.  In creative writing, we call this having a good inner critic . . . and such an inner critic is one of the most important traits of the great writer.  What is vaguely called genius or inspiration is more often than not the construction and employment of a highly adept inner critic.

Yet we haven't made any real attempts (at least since archetypal psychology strolled into town and started its impressively enduring Broadway run) to try to develop a functional science of soul.  We instead rest on our tired truism that since psyche must observe psyche in psychology, accurate observation is impossible.  There is no "Archimedean Point" as Giegerich says.  But from the perspective of a non-believer, that seems an absurd and irresponsible statement.  And to the degree that there is some truth to it, there is no valid reason that the alternative to the abandoned scientific psychology should be some kind of religion of psyche worship.  That polarization is ridiculous and is surely an indication of religious dualism, of a fundamentalist and rather unconscious, egoic law.  That is, it's a tribal dogma, a totemic belief.  It is really a declaration of tribal affiliation and not any kind of functional statement about the soul.

That said, I do not mean to imply either that a science of soul would be easy to develop or that I happen to have one lying around I could sell you at a good price.  The Hillman/Giegerich/sometimes Jung truism about studying the psyche is not entirely illusory.  But it is like traveling hundreds of miles to reach some fabled and numinous destination . . . say the Wizard of Oz . . . and when we get there, the gatekeeper says, "Sorry.  The Wizard won't see you.  Go home."  And then we not only accept this without an argument, we actually set up a religious cult outside of the gate worshiping the Unavailable Wizard whose texts and mantras all rationalize and celebrate the Wizard's unavailability.  If Dorthy and crew had just gone home when they met with that closed door, they wouldn't have won their heroic bounties.

Jungians have given up too easily and repressed this failure to meet the heroic challenge into our collective shadow.  So when I read bold talk about how the rejection of this shadow, like a rejection of Satan, is oh so righteous, I can't help but get my hackles up a bit.  This is simply unacceptable . . . and as I have often moaned, this kind of irresponsible religiosity and disdain of science (or intellectual rigor) is going to drive the Jungian tribe into premature extinction and obsolescence.


     [continued in next post]
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Matt Koeske

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Re: Science of Soul?
« Reply #1 on: October 31, 2008, 01:26:24 PM »
As far as the concept of the soul goes, although there have been many different definitions and attitudes toward it, we Jungians have always found the Renaissance* construction of the triune person most intriguing.  That is, the division of being into spirit, soul, and body.  I would actually call this a division of psyche, and therefore its role as a psychological precedent that would have interested Jung makes perfect sense.  The concept of body that this Renaissance construction is dealing with is a psychic one.  Body here corresponds to autonomous instinct that is very much like the instinct observable in other animals: sex, fear, aggression, etc.  This should not be confused with the idea of body common to modern science today.

[* I tried briefly to trace the history of this concept, but it was very difficult to do so.  On one hand, the triune division can be observed very vaguely in the Genesis.  Later it appears more clearly in Paul (and some Neoplatonic and Gnostic ideas).  But it doesn't really seem to take on the definition and division that most Jungians like to give it until close to the Renaissance when the ancient Greek philosophies were reintroduced to Europe through Muslim thinkers like Avicenna.  This is also where the resurgence of alchemy came from.  I am inclined to wonder whether alchemy wasn't reborn in the West during the Renaissance as a kind of psychological, spiritual, and intellectual tool conceived to first more clearly define spirit, soul, and body and then to solve the problem of their dissociation or the clash between spirit and body over the right to soul (which though considered immortal, can either be lost or redeemed/saved through our beliefs, actions, and choices).  I will very arbitrarily call these concepts of spirit, soul, and body that the Jungians and the alchemists have been interested in the "Renaissance" concepts.  But they can't be fixed to any one time, and I'm not sure that this is really the most accurate descriptor.]

But the first thing we should lay on the table when dealing with this Renaissance psychology is that it clearly doesn't contain a construction of ego like our modern psychology does.  I believe this is due to the fact that ego and spirit are conflated in this construct (the implications of this conflation are immense and fascinating, but I will only touch on the basics in this essay).  Not that spirit can be directly translated as "ego" in modern language, but what we now call ego is mixed in with something else in this Renaissance concept of spirit, and there is enough darkness and confusion there that ego cannot be differentiated from this other thing.  What is that other thing?  It isn't easy to say, because the construct is muddy and this muddiness means that the unconscious is probably involved.  In other words, this conscious construction of spirit is anchored in the unconscious, and we don't really know what we're getting.  What we know is that this spirit is mostly ego, but with some influence from and connection to the unconscious.  This means that part of this Renaissance construction of spirit is what we would now call instinct.  And so the Renaissance concept of body is in the shadow of spirit.  Spirit influences body and body influences spirit, but there is no conscious awareness of this or comprehension of how or why it works this way.

This is the kernel of the Platonic dissociation problem that Christianity raised to a tribal dogma.  The concept of soul comes into focus best in the alchemical tradition.  I see alchemy as a treatment of the Platonic dissociation.  If we keep this "purpose" in mind when trying to understand alchemical symbolism and the alchemical opus in general, it will prove very illuminating.  The soul is the gateway between spirit and body.  It has qualities of both spirit and body (or instinct).  Soul is typically personified by egoic projection and is therefore somewhat familiar to ego, yet it behaves like matter and contains a distinct Otherness to the ego that is perceived as both terrifying and attractive (where in the Platonic dissociation, body is utterly shadowed and undesirable, soul can be seen as beautiful and desirable).  To put it more alchemically (and this approaches Hillman's construct of soul as well), soul is the vessel in which the work of combining spirit and body is done.  Alchemical vessels, taken psychologically, are equivalent to transferences.  That is, Eros bonds between people or between a person and an object or fantasy.  In this Eros space, fantasies can evolve that reflect the reorganization of psychic processes.  Therefore, as Hillman says (in his complicated, poetic, and somewhat inconsistent ways) soul is like imagination, and what he calls "soul-making" is similar to aspects of the alchemical work.  Specifically in the emphasis both place on vessel maintenance.

But Hillman's imaginal, soul-making approach deviates from traditional alchemy in other important ways.  Hillman doesn't use soul to bring spirit and body together into one.  Rather, he seems to use soul to eclipse the spirit/body dissociation problem.  Soul itself becomes a totem to be worshiped, and as such a totem, it ceases to function as a vessel of alchemical combination and reaction.  The vessel is stoppered.  Nothing more can come in or out.  We are left to stare into it like it was some kind of crystal ball where we imagine our pants off in a speculative and freewheeling fashion.  In this, the Work of the alchemical opus is excised, and instead of labor, we get religion.  Even the "flame" (heat source to drive the alchemical reactions in the vessel) is not tended to.  We get lost in fantasy without participating in that fantasy.

By contrast, I think that the concept of soul is a transitional object.  The reason it doesn't seem to exist is because it doesn't.  We need soul especially when we are unable to imagine and understand the unity of spirit and body.  This is essentially the alchemical attitude as well.  In alchemy, the soul (as Luna, for instance) has the Otherness of the body (and the Self) and its material aspects, but it is attractive to and interested in the spirit-ego.  If we follow this process psychologically, we will begin to see that the soul (the animi figure in a more Jungian language) is attracted not specifically to the ego, but to the ego in its heroic mode.  That is, the mode in which the ego is open to valuating the instinctual Self.  To the degree that the ego identifies with this heroic attitude, the animi will be attracted to the ego and begin to differentiate and evolve.  The animi are attracted to the heroic, the Other-valuating or Other-redeeming attitude . . . and not really to the ego as a purely egoic thing.

The alchemical process can be looked at (as Dorn and others have done) as a combination of spirit and soul followed by a combination of the spirit-soul with body.  But, of course, this is no mere mathematical formula.  The transitional object of soul is used to start "weighing down" the ego-spirit, bringing it into a more material solution, a greater proximity to its instinctual drives and structures (i.e., the archetypal).  Jung saw the archetypal realm as "psychoid", and although I disagree with this characterization from a more scientific perspective, I understand it as phenomenologically accurate.  That is, the archetypes as they are observed (usually as symbols or personages) seem to exist in that soul realm somewhere between spirit and matter, ego and body. As images or symbols, they aren't material.  Jung felt that a materiality was vaguely discernible beyond (or beneath archetypes), and this was the instinct, of which we could know nothing and which we could never directly observe (instinct can only be observed through archetype which can only be observed through archetypal images).  Very muddy.

I believe Jung's (and the Jungian) problematic construction can be resolved by removing the archetype from the psychoid strata that Jung proposed.  That is, Jung saw (from "top" to "bottom"): consciousness --> personalized archetypal image --> pure archetype --> instinct (and noted that neither the pure archetype nor the instinct could be observed or studied directly).  I think Hillman is on the right track in his imaginalism here, because it dissolves archetype into the imaginal soul vessel.  It says that there is no fixed, "psychoid" structure of archetype in us.  There is just soul and fantasy.  Psyche is all.  This avoids Jung's nagging Lamarckism.  And it also shows archetype as an imaginal structure rather than a quasi-pseudo-biological one.  Jung's construction of the psychoid is actually a regressive step, because it re-conflates spirit and matter.  It's a spiritualistic or metaphysical concept.  Hillman's archetypal psychology offers a cure for this: psychization.  From the perspective of Hillman (and Giegerich and other imaginalists), Jung's flirtation with "biologism" was misguided.  The imaginalists are happy to cast that off (as they devalue biology or matter so severely that they assume there is no worth in it . . . a typical shadow projection).

I disagree, of course.  I think Jung's flirtation with biology was his inner bloodhound trying to pull him in the right direction.  But Jung's "biologism" was voiced almost in spite of his preferred conscious attitude.  Jung was never a big fan of biologizing his psychological theories (read Shamdasani's Jung and the Making of Modern Psychology: The Dream of a Science for a clear portrait of this).  His later writings turn away from the flirtations with biology he once had, becoming more spiritualistic.  When Giegerich (for instance) attacks Jung for not abandoning the ideas of an Archimedean point from which to scientifically observe psyche, he (Giegerich) is deluding himself to some degree.  Jung was very much in agreement with Giegerich on this point.  It's true Jung also flirted with biological constructs or influences of the psyche, but he did so almost as if her were slumming or making a clandestine visit to a prostitute.  One of Giegerich's flaws is the poor choice of opponents.  As complicated linguistically and philosophically as Giegerich's thinking is, one still gets the impression that he is a few steps behind Jung in the genius department.  Jung's thinking is more complex, diverse, and graceful, and it incorporates and surpasses the achievement of Giegerich, despite the latter's sound and fury.  (Still, I appreciate Giegerich's desire to wrestle with the master, and see it as the right impulse . . . one other Jungians might do well to emulate.)

But, where James Hillman's psychization dissolves the spirit/matter conflict to some degree by ignoring or eclipsing it, it also does nothing to treat the Platonic dissociation.  Which is to say, it isn't "real alchemy".  Soul, in Hillman, doesn't really weigh down and dissolve spirit (like the Mercurial bath would or an alchemical acid such as the Green Lion that devours the sun/gold).  Soul doesn't function as an effective transitional object in archetypal psychology, because it doesn't truly bring ego-spirit closer to matter and instinct.  To have anything like a science of the soul, I think we have to return to Jung's flirtations with biology and reexamine them.  I have written about the use of biology in depth psychology extensively on this forum, so I won't go into great detail here.  But I do believe we can only progress by returning to the alchemical fantasy of the spirit-matter Coniunctio.  Or if you prefer, to the treating of the Platonic dissociation wound.  We Jungians, by inheritance, are pseudo-alchemists, charcoal burners who misunderstood the true nature of the Work and never really discovered the prima materia, the product of the spirit-soul Coniunctio.  We remain dissociatively Platonic, wounded, broken . . . and in a 2500 year old way.  We have a very old disease, a disease that established itself at the very beginning of modern culture.  A fissure occurred with the exaltation of the modern ego, and far from healing this wound, we Jungians have succumbed to the illness.  But we have all of the necessary instruments with which to conduct our treatment.  They are lying on the dung heap outside our door along with the Philosopher's Stone.

But we still haven't really understood the disease.  And we still don't really understand the spirit-matter Coniunctio as anything but a conquering of matter by spirit.  Which is to say, we remain egoically and spiritually inflated.  We have not differentiated instinct from egoism and reformulated a conscious relationship to it.  We got stuck on the transitional object of soul.  And this soul (a kind of grand anima to us) was so wondrous that we fell down on our knees and started to chant praises to "Her".  As a result, "She" faded away.  "She" came for our heroism, our embrace, not for our worship.  And so we have lost her, because the anima (or animus) only means action, movement, progress, reformation.  It is not interested in worship and entertaining fantasies endlessly in lieu of change or reformation.  We have not really felt our way into the anima experience.  We have only thought and fantasized, used egoic means.  But the heroic attitude is a feeling attitude most of all.  It is not a philosophical solution to a complex equation that the hero employs, it is a heartfelt and honest sacrifice done without really knowing what will come of it.  It's an act of courage.  Not of faith.  One must give up faith to be truly brave.  It's an act of heart.  And Jungianism has long been (like the Grinch) possessed of a heart two sizes too small (i.e., a "feeling" dysfunction).

Mary Stamper brings this issue up (a little less overtly or confrontationally than I have) in her article and quotes from Jung:
Quote from: C.G. Jung
It often happens that the patient is quite satisfied with merely registering a dream or fantasy, especially if he has pretensions to aestheticism...  Others try to understand with their brains only... That they should also have a feeling-relationship to the contents of the unconscious seems strange to them or even ridiculous. Intellectual understanding and aestheticism both produce the deceptive, treacherous sense of liberation and superiority which is liable to collapse if feeling intervenes. Feeling always binds one to the reality and meaning of symbolic contents, and these in turn impose binding standards of ethical behavior from which aestheticism and intellectualism are only too ready to emancipate themselves. (CW 16,493)

Stamper goes on to reflect on Jung's quote (which I have not quoted entirely to try to simplify Jung's statement a bit):
Quote from: Mary Stamper
If one assumes consistency between these passages from Jung and the ones quoted by Christou, one can conclude that there is a type of “experience” that is more than a mere encounter and not at all a conceptual interpretation, and that there is a type of “meaning” that is different from the mere elucidation of a concept. Perhaps it could be said that to experience something psychologically is to come to terms with its subjective implications, to meet it on a feeling level, to be drawn into confrontation with it so much so that one feels no choice but to admit that one now sees some aspect of oneself more clearly. Thomas Moore associates soul with genuineness, with one’s true nature. This further helps to delineate what we are looking for, because it says that it is not sufficient to enter merely into an intellectualizing analysis in terms of some conceptual system; here one is up to one’s neck in blood, sweat, and tears, not explanations.


[continued in next post]
You can always come back, but you can’t come back all the way.

   [Bob Dylan,"Mississippi]

Matt Koeske

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Re: Science of Soul?
« Reply #2 on: October 31, 2008, 04:57:18 PM »
What I think happens all too often with Jungian writing (even Hillman's poetically emotive valuations of soul) is that praise of the totemic gods, that ecstasy of participation in belief, is mistaken for having a real "feeling perspective" on these totems or on the contents and forces of the psyche.  The problem with this sort of praise is not that it isn't Eros.  It is.  But it is the Eros of participation mystique.  It is unconscious.  It has nothing to do with the problem of relationship between a self (the ego) and an Other (the Self).  The ego is dissolved into the mystique and doesn't differentiate itself . . . and so it doesn't achieve a kind of perspective on the Other that is characterized by tension, difference.  Without a genuine sense of difference, there is no ethical burden on the ego . . . and it is such an ethical burden (of the valuation and differentiation of Otherness) that the "feeling" or valuating intelligence is defined by.  This, Jung understood.  And even though Jung was not (it seems) a feeling type, he had more connection to his feeling intelligence than most Jungians do.  It was the product of individuation work . . . and it meant incorporating a lot of shadow (in the form of "affect"), which could rub other people the wrong way at times.  And this is precisely what Jungians have not done well in general.  They have not been able to incorporate much affect-shadow and allow differentiated feeling to permeate their intellectual constructions and fantasies.

This is, I think, why the Jungian notion of soul has very little weight to it and why biology can only be seen derisively as "biologism".  Feeling can only be seen as the ecstasy of participation in the numen of or belief in the totem.  The darker or earthier aspects of feeling are not allowed into Jungian thinking.  We do not know how to listen to such dark feeling or how to derive orientation from it.  And why?  Because such feeling always grounds one in what is perceived as "base" instinct by spiritualistically inclined people.  Anger, frustration, grief, reflex, eruption, depression, etc.  We do not have a Jungian method that allows us to effectively utilize these things.  Instead, we have a spiritualistic attitude that in transcendent enlightenment these nuisance "affects" disappear.  We do not think that human beings and many other species have survived for millions of years on the "wisdom" of such affects (we instead assume that we have persisted "heroically" by staving off these affects, conquering them, mastering them).  They bring energy and direction into our action . . . and for the Jungian mindset, they represent mana, which we both fear and covet.  This feeling-mana is foreign to us.  In making it our enemy, we have effectively lost our soul . . . or lost the earthiness and weight of the soul.  And we are nowhere near body or instinct so long as we do not utilize soul as a transitional object that weighs down our ego-spirit, dissolves it, decomposes it in the earth.  Soul that does not pull the ego-spirit closer to the body is dead, illusory.

Hillman reads the narratives of the soul like they are prehistorical cave paintings and imagines himself into ancient ecstasies.  But the soul doesn't become real or heavy in this approach, and it never pulls the ego-spirit down into dissolution.  Such dissolution is remarked upon (by Hillman and others) because it is portrayed in the cave paintings that are the object of an academic fascination.  But it is not wrestled with as if it were an ethical dilemma.  Yet for Jung, the dissolution was an ethical dilemma, specifically because it tended to throw up inflation fantasies, which the ego had to reckon with and not entirely succumb to.  I don't think Jung completely mastered this wrestling (because he doesn't seem to fully or consistently realize that in any wrestling of angels, we must be defeated and accept survival over victory), but he made more note of it than other Jungians have.  In Hillman's soul fantasies, there is no ethical dilemma.  It is mostly play.  You can't lose your life or even have your hip thrown out (the wound to the sexual/creative instinct and drive) when you are merely fantasizing about cave paintings.

Stamper doesn't seem to understand Jung's emphasis on the ethical dilemma.  She writes:
Quote from: Mary Stamper
Jung distinguishes between intellectual understanding, aesthetic experience, and the subjective meaning. He also distinguishes between the realization of subjective meaning of something and the moral demands made by it. It is my belief that Christou’s “psychological experience” is equivalent to Jung’s realization of subjective meaning, but does not include Jung’s moral and ethical requirements. Psychological experience comes first, and one may or may not convert it into Jung’s famous ethical/moral obligations.

But it is absolutely "Jungian" to assume that the ethical/moral obligation of soul material and psychic experience can be hacked off and discarded.  Valuation is not equivalent to belief or faith.  Such faith is actually a failure to valuate the Other or object, because belief absolves the believer of having to deal with the dangerous Otherness of the Other.  Real valuation seeks to understand the Other as it is, on its own terms, from its own perspective.  There is no doing this without ethical and feeling-based tension (or affect).  There is no confrontation with Otherness without the confrontation with and transformation of affect from within.  Otherness presents itself to us through affect, which is a form of Eros, a conduit for relationship between one thing or person and another.  Affect is typically muddy and overwhelming, but it contains more truth about the Other than any other form of perception.  That truth is mixed up with our unconscious reaction to it (and to the Other), and what we mostly perceive (especially if we have not very well differentiated our feeling intelligence) is our reaction.  The Other makes me feel violated, stung, penetrated as it presents itself to me . . . and so I assume that the Other is a violator and aggressor.  But this is not necessarily the case.  When we feel this, in most cases, we have hung our own shadow on the Other.  It is our own prejudice and fear of difference and Otherness (within) that we paint the Other with.

But the Jungian (as non-feeling type) attitude toward such shadowy affects typically holds that they are "true intuitions" of the Other.  That is, Jungians tend to conflate intuition with somewhat dysfunctional feeling.  And when they call it intuition, they have carte blanch to absolve themselves of ethical self-scrutiny and differentiation.  Intuition (for a Jungian) after all is "divine perception".  It is "gnosis".  It cannot be wrong.  Call any prejudice "intuition", and it washes our hands from confronting it as an ethical burden.  We don't have to self-reflect.  This is how the feeling-wounded person behaves . . . and such people are terrified of the strong emotions of conflict.  Participation ecstasy is fine, but conflict ecstasy is the devil.  This dissociation or disease (in my experience) holds just as true for those Jungians who call themselves "feeling types" as it does for the intuitive and thinking types (one of many examples of why the Jungian typology system is dysfunctional as psychology and only indicates an affiliation to the Jungian tribe).

The kind of "feeling type" that Jung describes with his idea of the ethical burden of psychic experience is nothing but a phantom or alien in the Jungian tribe.  And it should therefore be of no surprise to us that such a splendid harbinger of the Jungian shadow like Richard Noll is a regular white whale of affect and ethical aggression.  It is what we bring upon ourselves by taking too little responsibility for our own ethical obligations, our own feeling intelligence.  Noll gave us a shadow mirror.


To return, then, to a "science of soul" . . . it would seem impossible to construct such a thing so long as our concept of soul is both damaged and essentially religious.  Therefore, the first step I would propose is the revisioning of the soul as both a vessel and a transitional object.  That would mean the relinquishment of the soul as totem or god to be worshiped.  This could put us one step closer to seeing the soul for what it is (i.e., seeing the soul as something that is, even as it is also imaginal and transitional).  To know the soul as transitional and to know it as a vessel or pact between multiple parties is to know it a little better . . . and to know it better is to valuate it more.  This is something we Jungians have fallen away from: the notion that to know a thing for what it is is to valuate it.  To valuate and not to conquer, possess, or own it.  The feeling-based drive behind knowing or gnosis is valuation.  To want to know what something is is to want it to be as it is rather than as we want it to be or as it relates to us.  The desire to afford Other things presence begins with an ethical obligation to them. And that means a more ethical scrutiny of ourselves.  That scrutiny is done out of respect to the Other.  We withdraw, or better comprehend, our projections.  We cease to conquer and "assimilate" Otherness.  We let it be.  This attitude is inherent in the scientific method . . . but it is also reflected in the Taoist wu wei.  Wu wei (to modernize the language a bit) would mean to stop trying to will things and Others into the shape we want to construct them.  They are not actors in the divine drama of which we are the protagonist.  The deflation of narcissism.  And with this deflation, everything that we relate to is much more tangible.  They are allowed to affect us as what they are.  And in turn, we learn to accept the space they occupy and to become flexible in relationship to it.

To "do without doing" then is to abide by the river of instinct which not only supplies its own current (libido), but also winds its way through the world, directed by the landscape, rather than cutting a straight path like a juggernaut rolling over everything else.

Once we have begun to understand the soul as a fantasy vessel and not something literalized (spiritualism tends to literalize soul as well as conflate it with spirit), we are on our way to keeping tabs on the egoic factor, the tendency to personalize and project ego into a transference object.  But if we don't understand where volition and ego enter into a fantasy, then we cannot really differentiate ego from Self in that fantasy.  We have to know what ego is and how it behaves in order to "factor it out" as a margin or error.  If we don't understand ego, then we have no chance to understand soul or Self, as self and Other cannot be adequately differentiated.  If we understand soul as a functional fantasy, we know that we must be projecting ego into it.  But if we persist in the belief that soul is an entirely autonomous thing, free from our projections and constructions, real in itself and quasi-literal (spiritualized), we essential disown or forget ego into it.  We lose consciousness by constructing soul this way, and when we meet that ego reflected back at us, we confuse it for something with divinity or mana, something archetypal.  That confusion tends to open the door for inflation.

After we have accounted for our own influence on the construction of soul, we can begin to redefine the nature of this influence by implementing a kind of ethical approach or heroic devotion to what is truly Other.

Another stumbling block we lay for ourselves where a science of the soul is concerned regards our generic misunderstanding of science.  Science for us has become a personified being that behaves rather like our collective shadow.  It aggravates us.  We look down on its narrow-mindedness.  It is "neurotic", stunted, it worships the wrong god.  It is unenlightened and non-transcendent.  But science is no more one mindset than religion is or business or politics or activism.  Also, science is essentially a method of observation and not a religious doctrine of belief.  One of the core tenets of the scientific method is (to use the derogatory term many Jungians often apply) to seek a "detached perspective" from that which is being observed, to not be in participation with it, to know the object from the observer.  This tenet is just as valid in Jungian psychology and was often noted by Jung as what he called the "personal equation" . . . what I have been calling the egoic factor.  Yet I have often read Jungian writings in which "scientific detachment" is looked down upon.  Scientific detachment doesn't have to mean not caring about what you are observing or not being invested in your research, creation, or "soul-making".  It merely has to mean that you attempt to recognize your own egoic input (including your shadow, as much as is possible) and try to adjust your observation to account for your own egoic fingerprints.  A better word for scientific observation than "detachment" would be "self-awareness".  And the implication of this self-awareness is that it is an ethical burden.  We "detach" so as not to violate or contaminate what we observe.

If Jungians mean to issue a declaration that their "psychology" requires no self-awareness, then it obviously can make no claim to being scientific.  Calling self-awareness "detachment" (in its most negative connotation), is merely a propagandistic spin, a PR maneuver.  If Jungianism means to disown science entirely, then it is a religious.  But of course, Jungianism also disavows its religiosity.  Here, we have a conflict of identity.  And certainly, despite our religiosity, we don't really want to do away with all scientific rigor.  It would be radically irresponsible to claim we don't have to test our ideas or revise them, that we merely have to believe.  After all, Jungian analysts are expected (by their patients and the standards of their profession) to maintain an ethical attitude toward their method.  Analytical method isn't belief; it's science.  That is, it is based on formulating hypotheses, collecting data, testing that data, and revising hypotheses accordingly.  If we renege on this agreement with the patients of analysis, we are deceiving them, manipulating them, defrauding them.  Patients expect their analysts to be trained practitioners.  But if we don't continue to take a scientific perspective toward our methodology, we fail ethically.

The fact that we can divorce our sense of ethical obligation from our devotion to testing and revising our methodological hypotheses is, again, a failure our our "feeling intelligence".  This is why Jung's rule of thumb for dream analysis (and analysis in general) was to forget (or put aside) everything one thinks one knows before attempting an analysis.  Analysis is best directed by the instinctual unconscious itself and not by theories.  But this doesn't mean we should not bother with building and revising theories.  It really means that the final authority is the data itself and not the thinker's or constructor's desire to make things fit into preconceived notions.  Jung's seeming dismissal of methodological theory is actually an advocation of the scientific method.  In science, the hypothesis is meant to explain the data and must therefore conform to the data as much as possible.  The data is not collected only to serve a hypothesis or philosophy.  Of course, scientists bungle this in all fields . . . not only psychology.  The scientific method is an ideal and a star to steer by.

It is not easy to differentiate the egoic factor from our observation at any time, but it is especially difficult with psychology.  But this difficulty doesn't excuse us from making every effort to accomplish this and to be perpetually dedicated to improving our ego recognition and accountability.  Jung himself was very interested in collecting data . . . although of course, our data in depth psychology is a bit "soft" compared to many other sciences.  Still, Jung's collection of data from various cultures around the world via the ravenous consumption of mythological and spiritual texts was in itself a Herculean effort and makes for a wonderful foundation to Jungian thinking.  His comparison of this mythological and cultural data to dream and fantasy data from modernized Western analysands and patients marks one of the core Jungian hypotheses (i.e., what goes on psychically in every individual human regardless of culture or historical era demonstrates a high level of consistency).  Around this observation, we have the hypothesis of the collective unconscious and the archetypes.

Jung's construction here is essentially (if not absolutely) scientific.  His hypothesis might not be true, but it is a logical way of understanding the data and makes for a credible theory.  I happen to think Jung's hypothesis is flawed in a few ways (and have written about this extensively elsewhere).  But I had to analyze and reanalyze the available data Jung worked with as well as any subsequent data collected by Jungians, non-Jungians, and myself in relation to this hypothesis of Jung's extensively before I really felt that it started to break down.  That is, I couldn't merely reason my way through it or think it out of existence.  Jung's hypothesis is viable.  Therefore, as far as I'm concerned, despite its possible flaws, the hypothesis of the collective unconscious is scientifically successful.  Where we Jungians have failed with most of Jung's hypotheses is in the continuation of a scientific attitude toward them.  We have not continued to analyze data effectively or revise hypotheses diligently and scientifically.  Unlike most non-Jungians and many Jungians, I see Jung as a successful scientist.  Even in most instances where we can now say with reasonable confidence that he was wrong, he constructed logical and data-based hypotheses.  And, in fact, holding Jung to the standard of prophet and assuming he had to have a special handle on the Truth is unfair.  Even if the vast majority of Jung's hypotheses were proved wrong, understanding why they were wrong would be of great benefit to us (as this would enable us to correct and revise Jung's mistakes).  Jung did not construct his theories lightly (certainly not with the same negligence as many subsequent Jungians have constructed theirs).  He was a powerful and generally an exceptionally balanced thinker.  His capacity to look at phenomena from many different angles simultaneously marks him as quite a rarity even among scientific thinkers.

But for us to hold Jung to the standard of a prophet rather than a scientist is to abuse the memory and validity of the scientific work he did and to refuse to continue on in the same tradition.  Being a Jungian, in my opinion, should not mean believing Jung to be a prophet who spoke the eternal and absolute truth.  It should mean following the pursuit of knowledge of the psyche in the tradition that Jung himself established.  This tradition was decidedly scientific . . . but it was also amazingly open to spiritual and psychological phenomena.  Although a skeptic could see this openness as a flaw of Jung's approach, I would (even as a skeptic myself) say that this approach is only flawed to the degree that scientific observation was put aside in favor of the literalization and totemization of a belief-based theory.  If we took some spiritualistic phenomenon and declared it truth without adequately testing it, this would violate the scientific ethic . . . but this abandonment of science was only very rarely done by Jung himself.  And to give the man his due as the scientist he always claimed to be, his ability to put aside materialistic, modernist, and Western prejudices to better observe the psyche and valuate its phenomena marks him with a degree of scientific ethicality that well surpasses that of most naturalistic and materialistic scientists.

So, to reiterate (because it really needs to be done!), the value and credibility of Jung the scientist cannot be assessed by his "correctness", but by the manner in which he proceeded to observe and analyze and revise his thinking in accordance with data.  It is on this issue that we have drastically failed to keep pace with and honor Jung.  But if we had better valued Jung the scientist, we may very well have a viable "science of the soul" today.  NOT the Truth!  The Truth is not the real stuff of science.  It is the pursuit and valuation of the pursuit of truth that science is concerned with.  The possession of Truth is a religious, not a scientific matter.

We have done a credible job of continuing Jung's precedent of collecting cross-cultural data on myth, ritual, and belief.  But we have increasingly ignored other related fields.  Specifically biology (although our ignorance of biology is also rooted in Jung's precedent to some degree, see Shamdasani again).  We have ravenously pursued some aspects of quantum physics in accord with Jung's interest in the field . . . but nothing substantial has come of this, and we have utterly failed to use our knowledge of psychology to assess the way quantum physics thinks about matter . . . which in my opinion would make an interesting and necessary study.  Instead, when we have turned to quantum physics, we have done so in the hope that it will validate our flaky, spiritualistic appropriations of matter.  That is, our attitude toward quantum physics is extremely unscientific . . . even as our interest in it is certain viable.

We have also largely ignored the thinking in social sciences (which have in turn ignored the thinking in both depth psychology and biology).  Advocates of Hillman and Giegerich (as well as the "masters" themselves) have delved into postmodernist philosophies of language, but as one who has gone through the academic system in the field of literature, I see the efforts of writers like Giegerich and Hillman to adopt postmodern literary theorists' approaches to language and philosophy at once both dated and misguided.  I spent my scholastic years deconstructing deconstructionism with Jungian ideas.  Much postmodern literary theory is really a bastardization of psychoanalytic methods applied to language and literature.  But where I (like many Jungians) feel Jung improved upon many of the flawed hypotheses of Freud's psychology, many postmodernists have only managed to employ an even more perverted Freudianism (or Lacanism).  Despite the grandiose French neologisms, the core of a postmodernist method of analysis like deconstruction is psychoanalytic and was anachronistic even before it was originally elaborated.  Jungian analytical ideas (applied to literary texts) actually deconstruct and improve upon Derridean and other poststructuralist approaches just as well as they do so for Freudian approaches.  But Jungian methods of textual analysis are not employed or tolerated in academia for the most part.  Jungian thinking (very poorly understood in literary theory tribes) is dismissed as "innatist" without any further consideration.  That is, since Jungian theory assumes that aspects of psychology and personality are biological and inheritable, the literary theorists who have made a kind of religion out of cultural constructionism will have nothing to do with it.

In this rejected status, modern evolutionary biology sits side by side with Jungian psychology (and we would do well to take a hint from such "ignominious" company, in my opinion).  The dominating wave of cultural constructionism in the social sciences has left little to no room form Jungianism to resurface in the universities in the last decades.  But evolutionary psychology and biology as well as cognitive sciences (that advocate the nature of human psychology as predominately "unconscious" or autonomous) have steadily emerged and cut through the front lines of cultural constructionism.  This charge and resurgence of scientific thinking in the social sciences and humanities has also opened a new door for advancement in Jungian thinking (so long as it can learn to valuate its biological cousins).  Seen in this light, the embrace of French poststructuralist literary theory and philosophy by Jungians like Hillman and Giegerich amounts to an exercise in severe self-hatred.  A kind of romantic fantasy of falling in love with one's abductor or violator.  I see it as marking a level of intellectual lostness and impotence that surpasses the pathetic and dallies in the disgraceful.  And this has come not from the flabby minds of New Agey Jungians taking a break from divination, but from two of the greatest minds in our field.  If our greatest minds are willing to sell our family fortune to the traveling conmen of academic cultural constructionism, we are in very sorry shape as a field and a tribe.  We are selling our vast ancestral land and history for beads and trinkets . . . simply because we believe that what we have is of no value.

But, if we are willing to take a page out of the alchemists' book, it is not devaluation that should mark our science of soul, but valuation.  We should be in the business of valuating what has been left by others on the dung heap.  In the case of cultural constructionism, what is left on the dung heap is biology and the systemic structure of human psychology that has evolved over millions of years to be adaptive, to help us survive.  If we valued soul with ethical obligation and feeling, we would be better able to value instinct and matter.  The lure of cultural theorists translated through Hillman and Giegerich is the appeal to our spiritualism (in postmodern culture theory, this is not expressed as a spiritualistic religiosity but as an abstract intellectualist religiosity), our disdain and devaluation of matter, our body shadow.  It is a devil's bargain for us.  We are considering selling our souls, our most valued objects, just to be rid of the problem of matter.  Just so spirit can have its great day in the sun and declare victory over matter.  But if that day ever comes, it will mark the end of the Jungian tribe as a survivable entity.  We will lose our earth, our science, our adaptability . . . and will fall miserably into extinction.

Of course, one doesn't have to think about extinction if one's eyes are on the prize of the spiritual afterlife.  Not that Jungians have formed a theory or belief of an afterlife (yet), but spiritualism tends to look forward and upward only and fails to see what is coming upon it from below.
You can always come back, but you can’t come back all the way.

   [Bob Dylan,"Mississippi]